An opposition-controlled Malaysian state on Friday rejected a demand by Muslim fundamentalists to ban the sale of alcohol at convenience stores in Muslim-majority areas.
The issue has triggered an open confrontation within the Pakatan Rakyat opposition, exposing the ideological divide between its members including the conservative Islamic party PAS and the liberal Democratic Action Party (DAP).
AdvertisementPAS had pushed for a ban on alcohol sales in Muslim-majority areas of Selangor state, which surrounds the capital Kuala Lumpur, and were enraged when a DAP legislator ordered the return of beer confiscated from a 7-Eleven outlet.
The lawmaker Ronnie Liu, who is in charge of local government affairs, said Friday after a meeting between the state's chief minister Abdul Khalid Ibrahim, and industry representatives that there would be no blanket ban.
"There is no ban on the sale of beer and liquor in Selangor state," he told AFP.
"But there will be some form of self-regulation by the various shops and outlets that sell alcohol. For instance they will not sell it to Muslims and those below 18 years old," he told AFP.
Muslims make up 60 percent of the population in multiracial Malaysia, and under religious laws they are forbidden from drinking alcohol.
The laws are rarely enforced, but last month a religious court sentenced a 32-year-old Muslim model to six strokes of the cane for drinking beer in a nightclub.
PAS spoke out in favour of an alcohol ban in Selangor after the controversial beer seizure last month.
The Islamic party demanded Liu's resignation after he told enforcement authorities to return the beer, saying that in the absence of a ban they had no legal right to seize the store's property.
The opposition alliance enjoyed unprecedented poll success last year, seizing control of a third of seats in parliament and control of five states including Selangor, in its best ever result.
But the ideological gulf between member parties has resulted in a series of rows which threaten to jeopardise its plan to seize power from the Barisan Nasional coalition which rules nationally.